UK’s first LGBT Extra Care scheme to be built in Whalley Range
- Manchester City Council announced plans for the UK’s first purpose-built Extra Care scheme for the elder LGBT community, developed in collaboration with the LGBT Foundation and community members
- The scheme aims to provide safe and affirming housing for older LGBT individuals in Whalley Range
- Manchester City Council announced ‘Great Places’ as the new housing provider for the upcoming project.
Manchester City Council announced the UK’s first purpose-built LGBT Extra Care scheme back in 2017. The initiative, developed in collaboration with the Manchester-based LGBT Foundation, aims to offer a safe and affirming housing solution for older LGBT individuals. In March, the announcement identified Great Places as the preferred provider responsible for designing, building, and managing the housing scheme in Whalley Range, south Manchester.
The LGBT Foundation, in collaboration with Homes England’s Community Housing Fund, conducted surveys and focus groups to gain insights into the specific needs of the LGBT community. These efforts revealed the importance of offering a range of housing options to accommodate diverse financial situations within the community.
The structure will therefore have a mix of over 100 affordable apartments, as well as a bistro, lounge areas, treatment rooms, and a planted outdoor community space.
In May 2015, the Council’s Equalities Team commissioned a report that identified a significant housing need among older LGBT people.
Despite progress in achieving equal rights, ageism and a lack of inclusive social and dating scenes contribute to a profound sense of isolation, as indicated by the report. It further highlights that 1 in 5 older LGBT people have no one to contact in times of crisis and that social isolation negatively impacts health at a level comparable to smoking 15 cigarettes a day.
The decision to choose Whalley Range as the LGBT extra-care location
Following the publication of its State of the City report in 2016, the foundation began meeting with staff at Manchester City Council in talks of an LGBT extra-care scheme.
The LGBT Foundation’s publication states the choice of location was motivated by Manchester’s reputation as a cosmopolitan and friendly city. Further, Manchester City Council publicly supports the LGBT community. The city boasts the vibrant Canal Street and ‘Gay Village’ and has a longstanding and sizable LGBT population. Manchester’s history as the birthplace of the Campaign for Homosexual Equality and its strong opposition to Section 28, further solidified its suitability.
Furthermore, the demand for an LGBT Affirmative Extra Care Scheme in Manchester is notably higher due to the large LGBT population coupled with a lack of provisions for older LGBT individuals with care needs.
The Council and the LGBT Foundation saw Whalley Range as a potential option due to its flourishing LGBTQ+ community. Whalley Range has an existing supportive community for LGBT people, with events such as Pride on the Range. Manchester City Council purchased and demolished a former hospital on Russell Road in the Whalley Range Conservation Area to make way for the new buildings.
The Foundation stated that any worries about the reaction to the potential of an LGBT scheme did not arise:
Meeting the needs of older LGBT people
Gavin White, Manchester City Council’s executive member for housing and development, said: “I’m very pleased that we can announce Great Places as the preferred provider for the ground-breaking LGBTQ+ majority, extra care housing scheme in Whalley Range.”
Dr Paul Martin OBE, Chief Executive of the LGBT Foundation, said:
“We are as committed as ever on delivering the right extra care scheme for the LGBTQ+ residents of Manchester, and we will continue to work with the Council to find the most appropriate partner to meet the needs of LGBTQ+ people over 55.
Our research clearly demonstrates that the needs of LGBTQ+ older people are still not being addressed, and this scheme will help to ensure that these inequalities are met.”
As the LGBT-Affirmative Extra Care Scheme takes shape in Whalley Range, it signifies a significant step forward in providing inclusive housing, care, and community services for older LGBT individuals. This new initiative, driven by the collaborative efforts of Manchester City Council, the LGBT Foundation, and various stakeholders, can set a new standard for addressing the specific needs of the older LGBT community.